Do You Really Need a Dehumidifier in Winter?

Dehumidifiers work most efficiently during warm temperatures and should not be operated below 60° F. When used during the cold season, moisture is extracted from the indoor air which can freeze the cooling coils, and later on will damage the unit.


Operating a dehumidifier in winter is not necessary as it may risk the humidity levels too low.


However, there are certain cases wherein homeowners might need to run a dehumidifier during the cold season and you’ll probably need them only in your basement or certain house areas, depending on the case may be.


Dehumidifiers are normally settled in basements because this area does not have much exposure to natural light and heat. This is why basements stay damp all-year-round and are ideal locations for mold and mildew to grow.


And when molds start to accumulate, it will spread out in the entire house risking your health, walls, woods, and furniture.


But, if your home has a varying indoor humidity level let’s say above 60% then you might need a dehumidifier even in winter to counteract the adverse effects of mold and bacteria growth which can affect your family’s health.


When Do I Need to Turn

 On the Dehumidifier in

Winter?

When-Do-I-Need-to-Turn-On-t

You are probably comfortable running the humidifier to keep your home warm and cozy during these last few months of winter. Some cities, however, still experience high humidity even during the wintertime.


People living in warm climates are used to running a dehumidifier but during the winter, for example, California residents apparently won’t need to run a dehumidifier and Floridians might actually need to.


Both states have warmer temperatures in winter and both also do not have basements but Florida has higher humidity levels compared to California due to varying temperatures and humidity levels.


The tip is here pretty simple, it all boils down to how high the relative indoor humidity your home has!


Monitor Your Indoor Humidity

monitor humidity


Keep in mind that you only need to turn on the dehumidifier if the relative indoor humidity stays at 60% or higher in order to keep mold and mildew from advancing.


Usually, some parts of your house will tend to have higher humidity during the last parts of the winter season due to insulation. This might be a good idea to install a dehumidifier instead.


This is where a hygrometer will help you most, it will monitor your indoor humidity so you can decide whether or not a dehumidifier is needed. It may sound tricky at first, but if you happen to live in high humid areas, then you already know the drill!


Which Room Needs A Dehumidifier?

parts-of-the-house-that-nee

You don’t need to run the dehumidifier in the entire house. Usually, you only need it in rooms or house areas that don’t have good ventilation. These areas have greater chances of having high humidity even in the wintertime.


It could be any of the following areas:

  • Basement
  • Garages
  • Insulated spaces (boats, RVs)


But, you should be careful in turning on the dehumidifier, because it might damage the device the moment that it starts to extract excess air moisture and freeze its cooling coil.


If there is high humidity but the temperature is too cold to use the dehumidifier, it’s better to use any heating devices such as electric heater instead for a few hours every day or until the indoor air humidity stabilizes.


Electric heaters may not be as effective in lowering down humidity levels but it can at least lower the temperature in the basement and remove excess water vapor.


How to Effectively Use a 

Dehumidifier in Winter?

How to Effectively Use a Dehumidifier in Winter?

Well, using a dehumidifier in the winter is a little bit delicate and needs your utmost attention. I suggest that you only turn on or use your dehumidifier if you notice an extreme or alarming level of high humidity.


With the help of a hygrometer, you can detect the humidity levels inside the house and when it starts to get higher than the recommended percentage, then you turn on the dehumidifier.


You can effectively use a dehumidifier in the following situations:

  • When the temperature or the humidity level is more than 50%. I recommend that you keep an eye on your hygrometer or the humidistat. At first, observe the timeframe or the gap when the humidity goes higher and for how long it stays that way.
  • If you or anybody at home is suffering from allergies during the cold months, a dehumidifier can help alleviate the allergy symptoms.
  • If you notice condensations and mold growth. Again, refer to your humidistat to be sure that the indoor humidity is rising. When the humidity levels fall below the recommended percentage, turn off the dehumidifier.
  • Set an automatic humidity threshold on your humidistat with the highest at 30% humidity to maintain the room dry and comfortable.
  • If possible, use the humidifier together with some heating device or in a heated environment to avoid freezing the coils.


Once you have turned on the dehumidifier, keep an eye on the device and monitor the room or the basement. If your dehumidifier has more customization control, then it is easier to manage humidity.


Make sure to completely dry out the room to stop the mildew from scattering. The table below will guide you when to effectively use a dehumidifier during the winter.


what to do with dehumidifier in winter


How to Prevent Cold Air from Damaging the Dehumidifier

How to Prevent Cold Air from Damaging the Dehumidifier

Since it is uncommon to use a dehumidifier in winter except in certain locations and conditions, you can practically do some precautions to prevent the cold winter air from damaging your dehumidifier.

  1. 1
    Installing a dehumidifier in less ventilated areas will help get rid of condensation and possible mold growth. However, since it is winter, you can alternatively add a heater to avoid the dehumidifier coils from freezing.
  2. 2
    Apart from that, make sure that you seal all the possible sites and vents that will let the cold air to seep in and avoid freezing in the dehumidifier coils.
  3. 3
    In your basement, make sure to cover possible areas where the cold air can go in that might affect the efficiency of your dehumidifier. If the basement is too cold, you can run a heater for at least two hours every day to lower down the temperature.
  4. 4
    The correct dehumidifier positioning also highly affects its efficiency. After you have recorded the humidity levels of the basement, you put the unit to the area of the basement with the highest humidity percentage.


Heaters don’t remove much humidity as how dehumidifiers would, but it will just produce enough heat to avoid the freezing temperature range at least.

Best Practices In Winter (For Dehumidifier)

Dehumidifier Best Practices in Winter

The cold winter air can be risky for your dehumidifier, you’ll do whatever you can to make sure it’s able to perform its tasks without any issues. Once the cold air seeps through your unit and it starts to freeze the coils, you may end up either to replace it or have it fixed.


Winter dehumidifier maintenance does not require special materials and routine. All you need to do is to clean it regularly just as you would on a regular dehumidifier season, except that you take a keen eye on the temperature and humidity levels.


So, how do you prevent the cold air from damaging your dehumidifier in this cold season? Here are some best practices you should know!

  1. 1
    Empty the dehumidifier bucket regularly. This also depends on the size of the unit, but due to the cold air, there might be chances that the water in the tank might start to turn cold or frozen.
  2. 2
    Check the cooling coils after each use. It’s not good to continue running the unit with frozen coils.
  3. 3
    Set automatic humidity control. Some dehumidifiers are able to run in colder temperatures like 42° but this will forfeit the need to turn on the unit.
  4. 4
    Clean the dehumidifier after use. Like any household appliances, you can prolong its lifespan by practicing cleanliness and proper maintenance.


When you start seeing unwanted mold growth, you can use common fungicide readily available at home like the white vinegar, rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.


Better yet, you can also find dehumidifiers that can withstand certain freezing temperatures that do not require you to check it every now and then.


Other Alternatives to Reduce Humidity Levels in Enclosed Spaces During the Winter

Other Alternatives to Reduce Humidity Levels in Enclosed Spaces During the Winter

Understanding why your home or certain parts of it is overly humid during the winter is the key to getting the right solution. You see, the main concern here is the comfort of your family and the overall protection of your home.


There are many alternatives you can do apart from using a dehumidifier to overcome high humidity. Here are some guidelines and alternatives to reduce humidity levels at home during the winter months:

  • Identify the source of excess moisture. It could be your leaking pipes, roofs, and walls. This is preferred done before the cold weather begins to ensure that you get to be comfortable the entire season.
  • Turn the heat up. Warming your homes during the winter is no brainer and it is also one of the most effective alternatives to keep excess moisture at bay. You can opt for electric heaters or those included in your HVAC system.
  • High-efficiency windows. Window condensation is a common sight especially when there is high indoor humidity. Upgrading your windows to double-pane or add an insulating film can highly decrease energy exchanges in the winter. This only applies to garages.
  • Direct water away from home. Make sure that your drainage, downspouts, landscapes, and gutters are directed away from your home to avoid water clogging that may contribute to high humidity. Do note that when it snows , the heat from your house might melt the snow in those areas and turn into a source of humidity.
  • Remove Carpeting in winters. Floor carpets actually add warmth to our feet during the cold season, however, you might need to say goodbye to them to avoid high humidity. Quite an unorthodox alternative but carpets actually hold excess moisture and perfect material for retaining liquids. For better comfort, remove floor carpeting in the winter and just use solid flooring instead.
  • Keep firewoods covered outside. Having a fireplace at home greatly alleviates the chilling temperatures so you tend to hoard firewood inside the house or in the garage. However, firewood that was kept outside already absorbed a lot of moisture and there is a big risk that if you put them inside, the moisture from the wood will evaporate and will circulate indoors.


Conclusion


Using a dehumidifier in winter is not for everyone. It is only effective if you live in an unusually humid area or has certain house parts with high humidity, like your basement, garages, and other spaces.


You could be living in a basement apartment that has high humidity all year round, or has a basement and garage without any ventilation, these are just a few reasons to dehumidify during the cold months. The main objective of dehumidifying in the winter is to remove excess moisture that can cause condensation and trigger mold and bacteria growth.


Other house areas like your closets, cabinets, and kitchen are also prone to high humidity at some point. However, there are precautions in using a dehumidifier in the winter. Before you turn on your unit, you have to make sure that the relative indoor humidity is above 50% based on your hygrometer and it has been the same scenario for quite some time.


Otherwise, it will forfeit its purpose and only cause more havoc than benefits. In fact, it is challenging to use the dehumidifier in winter due to the colder air. There are risks of freezing the coils inside that can later on damage the unit if left unattended.


Fortunately, I got everything covered in this post. If you are having issues with high humidity in the winter, then you should carefully go through the tips I have given above.


Don’t let high humidity destroy your health, comfort and air quality these cold months. Ponder on these best practices on how to use and maintain your humidifier in winter.


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